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The Advantages, Foundation, Extent, Progress, Edifices, Population and Privileges of Constantinople (324 A.D.).
We are at present qualified to view the advantageous
position of Constantinople; which appears to have been formed by
nature for the centre and capital of a great monarchy. Situated
in the forty-first degree of latitude, the Imperial city
commanded, from her seven hills, 22 the opposite shores of
Europe and Asia; the climate was healthy and temperate, the soil
fertile, the harbor secure and capacious; and the approach on the
side of the continent was of small extent and easy defence. The
Bosphorus and the Hellespont may be considered as the two gates
of Constantinople; and the prince who possessed those important
passages could always shut them against a naval enemy, and open
them to the fleets of commerce. The preservation of the eastern
provinces may, in some degree, be ascribed to the policy of
Constantine, as the barbarians of the Euxine, who in the
preceding age had poured their armaments into the heart of the
Mediterranean, soon desisted from the exercise of piracy, and
despaired of forcing this insurmountable barrier. When the gates
of the Hellespont and Bosphorus were shut, the capital still
enjoyed within their spacious enclosure every production which
could supply the wants, or gratify the luxury, of its numerous
inhabitants. The sea-coasts of Thrace and Bithynia, which
languish under the weight of Turkish oppression, still exhibit a
rich prospect of vineyards, of gardens, and of plentiful
harvests; and the Propontis has ever been renowned for an
inexhaustible store of the most exquisite fish, that are taken in
their stated seasons, without skill, and almost without labor.
23 But when the passages of the straits were thrown open for
trade, they alternately admitted the natural and artificial
riches of the north and south, of the Euxine, and of the
Mediterranean. Whatever rude commodities were collected in the
forests of Germany and Scythia, and far as the sources of the
Tanais and the Borysthenes; whatsoever was manufactured by the
skill of Europe or Asia; the corn of Egypt, and the gems and
spices of the farthest India, were brought by the varying winds
into the port of Constantinople, which for many ages attracted
the commerce of the ancient world. 24
Footnote 22: Pocock's Description of the East, vol. ii. part ii.
p. 127. His plan of the seven hills is clear and accurate. That
traveller is seldom unsatisfactory.
Footnote 23: See Belon, Observations, c. 72 - 76. Among a
variety of different species, the Pelamides, a sort of Thunnies,
were the most celebrated. We may learn from Polybius, Strabo,
and Tacitus, that the profits of the fishery constituted the
principal revenue of Byzantium.
Footnote 24: See the eloquent description of Busbequius,
epistol. i. p. 64. Est in Europa; habet in conspectu Asiam,
Egyptum. Africamque a dextra: quae tametsi contiguae non sunt,
maris tamen navigandique commoditate veluti junguntur. A
sinistra vero Pontus est Euxinus, &c.
The prospect of beauty, of safety, and of wealth, united in
a single spot, was sufficient to justify the choice of
. But as some decent mixture of prodigy and fable
has, in every age, been supposed to reflect a becoming majesty on
the origin of great cities, 25
the emperor was desirous of
ascribing his resolution, not so much to the uncertain counsels
of human policy, as to the infallible and eternal decrees of
divine wisdom. In one of his laws he has been careful to
, that in obedience to the commands of God, he
laid the everlasting foundations of Constantinople: 26
though he has not condescended to relate in what manner the
inspiration was communicated to his mind, the defect of
his modest silence has been liberally supplied by the ingenuity
of succeeding writers; who describe the nocturnal vision which
appeared to the fancy of Constantine, as he slept within the
walls of Byzantium. The tutelar genius of the city, a venerable
matron sinking under the weight of years and infirmities, was
suddenly transformed into a blooming maid, whom his own hands
adorned with all the symbols of Imperial greatness. 27 The
monarch awoke, interpreted the auspicious omen, and obeyed,
without hesitation, the will of Heaven.
The day which gave birth
to a city or colony
was celebrated by the Romans with such
ceremonies as had been ordained by a generous superstition
and though Constantine
might omit some rites which savored too
strongly of their Pagan origin, yet he was anxious to leave a
deep impression of hope and respect on the minds of the
spectators. On foot, with a lance in his hand, the emperor
himself led the solemn procession; and directed the line, which
was traced as the boundary of the destined capital: till the
growing circumference was observed with astonishment by the
assistants, who, at length, ventured to observe, that he had
already exceeded the most ample measure of a great city. "I shall
still advance," replied Constantine, "till He, the invisible
guide who marches before me, thinks proper to stop." 29
presuming to investigate the nature or motives of this
extraordinary conductor, we shall content ourselves with the more
humble task of describing the extent and limits of
Footnote 25: Datur haec venia antiquitati, ut miscendo humana
divinis, primordia urbium augustiora faciat. T. Liv. in prooem.
Footnote 26: He says in one of his laws, pro commoditate urbis
quam aeteras nomine, jubente Deo, donavimus. Cod. Theodos. l.
xiii. tit. v. leg. 7.
Footnote 27: The Greeks, Theophanes, Cedrenus, and the author of
the Alexandrian Chronicle, confine themselves to vague and
general expressions. For a more particular account of the vision,
we are obliged to have recourse to such Latin writers as William
of Malmesbury. See Ducange, C. P. l. i. p. 24, 25.
Footnote 28: See Plutarch in Romul. tom. i. p. 49, edit. Bryan.
Among other ceremonies, a large hole, which had been dug for that
purpose, was filled up with handfuls of earth, which each of the
settlers brought from the place of his birth, and thus adopted
his new country.
Footnote 29: Philostorgius, l. ii. c. 9. This incident, though
borrowed from a suspected writer, is characteristic and
Footnote 30: See in the Memoires de l'Academie, tom. xxxv p. 747
- 758, a dissertation of M. d'Anville on the extent of
Constantinople. He takes the plan inserted in the Imperium
Orientale of Banduri as the most complete; but, by a series of
very nice observations, he reduced the extravagant proportion of
the scale, and instead of 9500, determines the circumference of
the city as consisting of about 7800 French toises.
In the actual state of the city, the palace and gardens of
occupy the eastern promontory
, the first of the
seven hills, and cover about one hundred and fifty acres of our
own measure. The seat of Turkish jealousy and despotism
erected on the foundations of a Grecian republic; but it may be
supposed that the Byzantine
s were tempted by the conveniency of
the harbor to extend their habitations on that side beyond the
modern limits of the Seraglio
. The new walls of Constantine
stretched from the port to the Propontis
across the enlarged
breadth of the triangle, at the distance of fifteen stadia from
the ancient fortification; and with the city of Byzantium
enclosed five of the seven hills, which, to the eyes of those who
approach Constantinople, appear to rise above each other in
beautiful order. 31
About a century after the death of the
founder, the new buildings, extending on one side up the harbor,
and on the other along the Propontis
, already covered the narrow
ridge of the sixth, and the broad summit of the seventh hill.
The necessity of protecting those suburbs from the incessant
inroads of the barbarians
engaged the younger Theodosius
surround his capital with an adequate and permanent enclosure of
From the eastern promontory
to the golden gate, the
extreme length of Constantinople was about three Roman miles; 33
the circumference measured between ten and eleven; and the
surface might be computed as equal to about two thousand English
acres. It is impossible to justify the vain and credulous
exaggerations of modern travellers, who have sometimes stretched
the limits of Constantinople over the adjacent villages of the
European, and even of the Asiatic coast. 34
But the suburbs of
Pera and Galata
, though situate beyond the harbor, may deserve to
be considered as a part of the city; 35
and this addition may
perhaps authorize the measure of a Byzantine historian
assigns sixteen Greek (about fourteen Roman) miles for the
circumference of his native city. 36
Such an extent may not seem
unworthy of an Imperial residence. Yet Constantinople must yield
to ancient Rome, to London, and even
to Paris. 38
Footnote 31: Codinus, Antiquitat. Const. p. 12. He assigns the
church of St. Anthony as the boundary on the side of the harbor.
It is mentioned in Ducange, l. iv. c. 6; but I have tried,
without success, to discover the exact place where it was
Footnote 32: The new wall of Theodosius was constructed in the
year 413. In 447 it was thrown down by an earthquake, and rebuilt
in three months by the diligence of the praefect Cyrus. The
suburb of the Blanchernae was first taken into the city in the
reign of Heraclius Ducange, Const. l. i. c. 10, 11.
Footnote 33: The measurement is expressed in the Notitia by
14,075 feet. It is reasonable to suppose that these were Greek
feet, the proportion of which has been ingeniously determined by
M. d'Anville. He compares the 180 feet with 78 Hashemite cubits,
which in different writers are assigned for the heights of St.
Sophia. Each of these cubits was equal to 27 French inches.
Footnote 34: The accurate Thevenot (l. i. c. 15) walked in one
hour and three quarters round two of the sides of the triangle,
from the Kiosk of the Seraglio to the seven towers. D'Anville
examines with care, and receives with confidence, this decisive
testimony, which gives a circumference of ten or twelve miles.
The extravagant computation of Tournefort (Lettre XI) of
thirty-tour or thirty miles, without including Scutari, is a
strange departure from his usual character.
Footnote 35: The sycae, or fig-trees, formed the thirteenth
region, and were very much embellished by Justinian. It has
since borne the names of Pera and Galata. The etymology of the
former is obvious; that of the latter is unknown. See Ducange,
Const. l. i. c. 22, and Gyllius de Byzant. l. iv. c. 10.
Footnote 36: One hundred and eleven stadia, which may be
translated into modern Greek miles each of seven stadia, or 660,
sometimes only 600 French toises. See D'Anville, Mesures
Itineraires, p. 53.
Footnote 37: When the ancient texts, which describe the size of
Babylon and Thebes, are settled, the exaggerations reduced, and
the measures ascertained, we find that those famous cities filled
the great but not incredible circumference of about twenty-five
or thirty miles. Compare D'Anville, Mem. de l'Academie, tom.
xxviii. p. 235, with his Description de l'Egypte, p. 201, 202.
Footnote 38: If we divide Constantinople and Paris into equal
squares of 50 French toises, the former contains 850, and the
latter 1160, of those divisions.
The master of the Roman world, who aspired to erect an
eternal monument of the glories of his reign could employ in the
prosecution of that great work, the wealth, the labor, and all
that yet remained of the genius of obedient millions.
estimate may be formed of the expense bestowed with Imperial
liberality on the foundation of Constantinople, by the allowance
of about two millions five hundred thousand pounds for the
construction of the walls, the porticos, and the aqueducts. 39
The forests that overshadowed the shores of the Euxine
, and the
celebrated quarries of white marble in the little island of
, supplied an inexhaustible stock of materials, ready
to be conveyed, by the convenience of a short water carriage, to
the harbor of Byzantium
A multitude of laborers and
artificers urged the conclusion of the work with incessant toil:
but the impatience of Constantine
soon discovered, that, in the
decline of the arts, the skill as well as numbers of his
architects bore a very unequal proportion to the greatness of his
designs. The magistrates of the most distant provinces were
therefore directed to institute schools, to appoint professors,
and by the hopes of rewards and privileges, to engage in the
study and practice of architecture
a sufficient number of
ingenious youths, who had received a liberal education. 41
buildings of the new city were executed by such artificers as the
reign of Constantine
could afford; but they were decorated by the
hands of the most celebrated masters of the age of Pericles
Alexander. To revive the genius of Phidias
surpassed indeed the power of a Roman emperor; but the immortal
productions which they had bequeathed to posterity
without defence to the rapacious vanity of a despot. By his
commands the cities of Greece and Asia were despoiled of their
most valuable ornaments. 42
The trophies of memorable wars, the
objects of religious veneration, the most finished statues of the
gods and heroes, of the sages and poets, of ancient times,
contributed to the splendid triumph of Constantinople; and gave
occasion to the remark of the historian Cedrenus
observes, with some enthusiasm, that nothing seemed wanting
except the souls of the illustrious men whom these admirable
monuments were intended to represent
. But it is not in the city
, nor in the declining period of an empire
the human mind was depressed by civil and religious slavery
we should seek for the souls of Homer
and of Demosthenes
Footnote 39: Six hundred centenaries, or sixty thousand pounds'
weight of gold. This sum is taken from Codinus, Antiquit.
Const. p. 11; but unless that contemptible author had derived his
information from some purer sources, he would probably have been
unacquainted with so obsolete a mode of reckoning.
Footnote 40: For the forests of the Black Sea, consult
Tournefort, Lettre XVI. for the marble quarries of Proconnesus,
see Strabo, l. xiii. p. 588, (881, edit. Casaub.) The latter had
already furnished the materials of the stately buildings of
Footnote 41: See the Codex Theodos. l. xiii. tit. iv. leg. 1.
This law is dated in the year 334, and was addressed to the
praefect of Italy, whose jurisdiction extended over Africa. The
commentary of Godefroy on the whole title well deserves to be
Footnote 42: Constantinopolis dedicatur poene omnium urbium
nuditate. Hieronym. Chron. p. 181. See Codinus, p. 8, 9. The
author of the Antiquitat. Const. l. iii. (apud Banduri Imp.
Orient. tom. i. p. 41) enumerates Rome, Sicily, Antioch, Athens,
and a long list of other cities. The provinces of Greece and Asia
Minor may be supposed to have yielded the richest booty.
Footnote 43: Hist. Compend. p. 369. He describes the statue, or
rather bust, of Homer with a degree of taste which plainly
indicates that Cadrenus copied the style of a more fortunate
During the siege of Byzantium
, the conqueror had pitched his
tent on the commanding eminence of the second hill. To
perpetuate the memory of his success, he chose the same
advantageous position for the principal Forum
to have been of a circular, or rather elliptical form. The two
opposite entrances formed triumphal arches; the porticos, which
enclosed it on every side, were filled with statues; and the
centre of the Forum
was occupied by a lofty column, of which a
mutilated fragment is now degraded by the appellation of the
burnt pillar. This column was erected on a pedestal of white
marble twenty feet high; and was composed of ten pieces of
porphyry, each of which measured about ten feet in height, and
about thirty-three in circumference. 45
On the summit of the
pillar, above one hundred and twenty feet from the ground, stood
the colossal statue of Apollo
. It was a bronze, had been
transported either from Athens or from a town of Phrygia
, and was
supposed to be the work of Phidias
. The artist had represented
the god of day, or, as it was afterwards interpreted, the emperor
himself, with a sceptre in his right hand, the globe
of the world in his left, and a crown of rays glittering on his
The Circus, or Hippodrome
, was a stately building about
four hundred paces in length, and one hundred in breadth. 47
space between the two metoe or goals were filled with statues and
obelisks; and we may still remark a very singular fragment of
antiquity; the bodies of three serpents, twisted into one pillar
of brass. Their triple heads had once supported the golden
tripod which, after the defeat of Xerxes
, was consecrated in the
temple of Delphi
by the victorious Greeks. 48
The beauty of the
has been long since defaced by the rude hands of the
Turkish conquerors; !
but, under the similar appellation of
, it still serves as a place of exercise for their
horses. From the throne, whence the emperor viewed the
Circensian games, a winding staircase 49
descended to the
palace; a magnificent edifice, which scarcely yielded to the
residence of Rome itself, and which, together with the dependent
courts, gardens, and porticos, covered a considerable extent of
ground upon the banks of the Propontis
between the Hippodrome
the Church of St. Sophia
We might likewise celebrate the
baths, which still retained the name of Zeuxippus
, after they had
been enriched, by the munificence of Constantine
, with lofty
columns, various marbles, and above threescore statues of bronze.
But we should deviate from the design of this history, if we
attempted minutely to describe the different buildings or
quarters of the city. It may be sufficient to observe, that
whatever could adorn the dignity of a great capital, or
contribute to the benefit or pleasure of its numerous
inhabitants, was contained within the walls of Constantinople. A
particular description, composed about a century after its
foundation, enumerates a capitol or school of learning, a circus,
two theatres, eight public, and one hundred and fifty-three
private baths, fifty-two porticos, five granaries, eight
aqueducts or reservoirs of water, four spacious halls for the
meetings of the senate or courts of justice, fourteen churches,
fourteen palaces, and four thousand three hundred and
eighty-eight houses, which, for their size or beauty, deserved to
be distinguished from the multitude of plebeian inhabitants. 52
Footnote 44: Zosim. l. ii. p. 106. Chron. Alexandrin. vel
Paschal. p. 284, Ducange, Const. l. i. c. 24. Even the last of
those writers seems to confound the Forum of Constantine with the
Augusteum, or court of the palace. I am not satisfied whether I
have properly distinguished what belongs to the one and the
Footnote 45: The most tolerable account of this column is given
by Pocock. Description of the East, vol. ii. part ii. p. 131.
But it is still in many instances perplexed and unsatisfactory.
Footnote 46: Ducange, Const. l. i. c. 24, p. 76, and his notes
ad Alexiad. p. 382. The statue of Constantine or Apollo was
thrown down under the reign of Alexius Comnenus.
Footnote 47: Tournefort (Lettre XII.) computes the Atmeidan at
four hundred paces. If he means geometrical paces of five feet
each, it was three hundred toises in length, about forty more
than the great circus of Rome. See D'Anville, Mesures
Itineraires, p. 73.
Footnote 48: The guardians of the most holy relics would rejoice
if they were able to produce such a chain of evidence as may be
alleged on this occasion. See Banduri ad Antiquitat. Const. p.
668. Gyllius de Byzant. l. ii. c. 13. 1. The original
consecration of the tripod and pillar in the temple of Delphi may
be proved from Herodotus and Pausanias. 2. The Pagan Zosimus
agrees with the three ecclesiastical historians, Eusebius,
Socrates, and Sozomen, that the sacred ornaments of the temple of
Delphi were removed to Constantinople by the order of
Constantine; and among these the serpentine pillar of the
Hippodrome is particularly mentioned. 3. All the European
travellers who have visited Constantinople, from Buondelmonte to
Pocock, describe it in the same place, and almost in the same
manner; the differences between them are occasioned only by the
injuries which it has sustained from the Turks. Mahomet the
Second broke the under jaw of one of the serpents with a stroke
of his battle axe Thevenot, l. i. c. 17.
Note: See note 75, ch. lxviii. for Dr. Clarke's rejection of
Thevenot's authority. Von Hammer, however, repeats the story of
Thevenot without questioning its authenticity. - M.
Footnote !: In 1808 the Janizaries revolted against the vizier
Mustapha Baisactar, who wished to introduce a new system of
military organization, besieged the quarter of the Hippodrome, in
which stood the palace of the viziers, and the Hippodrome was
consumed in the conflagration. - G.
Footnote 49: The Latin name Cochlea was adopted by the Greeks,
and very frequently occurs in the Byzantine history. Ducange,
Const. i. c. l, p. 104.
Footnote 50: There are three topographical points which indicate
the situation of the palace. 1. The staircase which connected it
with the Hippodrome or Atmeidan. 2. A small artificial port on
the Propontis, from whence there was an easy ascent, by a flight
of marble steps, to the gardens of the palace. 3. The Augusteum
was a spacious court, one side of which was occupied by the front
of the palace, and another by the church of St. Sophia.
Footnote 51: Zeuxippus was an epithet of Jupiter, and the baths
were a part of old Byzantium. The difficulty of assigning their
true situation has not been felt by Ducange. History seems to
connect them with St. Sophia and the palace; but the original
plan inserted in Banduri places them on the other side of the
city, near the harbor. For their beauties, see Chron. Paschal.
p. 285, and Gyllius de Byzant. l. ii. c. 7.
Footnote 52: See the Notitia. Rome only reckoned 1780 large
houses, domus; but the word must have had a more dignified
signification. No insulae are mentioned at Constantinople. The
old capital consisted of 42 streets, the new of 322.
The populousness of his favored city was the next and most
serious object of the attention of its founder. In the dark ages
which succeeded the translation of the empire, the remote and the
immediate consequences of that memorable event were strangely
confounded by the vanity of the Greeks and the credulity of the
Latins. 53 It was asserted, and believed, that all the noble
families of Rome, the senate, and the equestrian order, with
their innumerable attendants, had followed their emperor to the
banks of the Propontis; that a spurious race of strangers and
plebeians was left to possess the solitude of the ancient
capital; and that the lands of Italy, long since converted into
gardens, were at once deprived of cultivation and inhabitants.
In the course of this history, such exaggerations will be
reduced to their just value: yet, since the growth of
Constantinople cannot be ascribed to the general increase of
mankind and of industry, it must be admitted that this artificial
was raised at the expense of the ancient cities of the
empire. Many opulent senator
s of Rome, and of the eastern
provinces, were probably invited by Constantine
to adopt for
their country the fortunate spot, which he had chosen for his own
residence. The invitations of a master are scarcely to be
distinguished from commands; and the liberality of the emperor
obtained a ready and cheerful obedience. He bestowed on his
favorites the palaces which he had built in the several quarters
of the city, assigned them lands and pensions for the support of
their dignity, 55
and alienated the demesnes of Pontus
to grant hereditary estates by the easy tenure of maintaining a
house in the capital. 56
But these encouragements and
obligations soon became superfluous, and were gradually
abolished. Wherever the seat of government is fixed, a
considerable part of the public revenue will be expended by the
prince himself, by his ministers, by the officers of justice, and
by the domestics of the palace. The most wealthy of the
provincials will be attracted by the powerful motives of interest
and duty, of amusement and curiosity. A third and more numerous
class of inhabitants will insensibly be formed, of servants, of
artificers, and of merchants, who derive their subsistence from
their own labor, and from the wants or luxury of the superior
ranks. In less than a century, Constantinople disputed with Rome
itself the preeminence of riches and numbers. New piles of
buildings, crowded together with too little regard to health or
convenience, scarcely allowed the intervals of narrow streets for
the perpetual throng of men, of horses, and of carriages.
allotted space of ground was insufficient to contain the
increasing people; and the additional foundations, which, on
either side, were advanced into the sea, might alone have
composed a very considerable city. 57
Footnote 53: Liutprand, Legatio ad Imp. Nicephornm, p. 153. The
modern Greeks have strangely disfigured the antiquities of
Constantinople. We might excuse the errors of the Turkish or
Arabian writers; but it is somewhat astonishing, that the Greeks,
who had access to the authentic materials preserved in their own
language, should prefer fiction to truth, and loose tradition to
genuine history. In a single page of Codinus we may detect
twelve unpardonable mistakes; the reconciliation of Severus and
Niger, the marriage of their son and daughter, the siege of
Byzantium by the Macedonians, the invasion of the Gauls, which
recalled Severus to Rome, the sixty years which elapsed from his
death to the foundation of Constantinople, &c.
Footnote 54: Montesquieu, Grandeur et Decadence des Romains, c.
Footnote 55: Themist. Orat. iii. p. 48, edit. Hardouin.
Sozomen, l. ii. c. 3. Zosim. l. ii. p. 107. Anonym. Valesian.
p. 715. If we could credit Codinus, (p. 10,) Constantine built
houses for the senators on the exact model of their Roman
palaces, and gratified them, as well as himself, with the
pleasure of an agreeable surprise; but the whole story is full of
fictions and inconsistencies.
Footnote 56: The law by which the younger Theodosius, in the
year 438, abolished this tenure, may be found among the Novellae
of that emperor at the end of the Theodosian Code, tom. vi. nov.
12. M. de Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. iv. p. 371) has
evidently mistaken the nature of these estates. With a grant
from the Imperial demesnes, the same condition was accepted as a
favor, which would justly have been deemed a hardship, if it had
been imposed upon private property.
Footnote 57: The passages of Zosimus, of Eunapius, of Sozomen,
and of Agathias, which relate to the increase of buildings and
inhabitants at Constantinople, are collected and connected by
Gyllius de Byzant. l. i. c. 3. Sidonius Apollinaris (in Panegyr.
Anthem. 56, p. 279, edit. Sirmond) describes the moles that were
pushed forwards into the sea, they consisted of the famous
Puzzolan sand, which hardens in the water.
The frequent and regular distributions of wine and oil, of
corn or bread, of money or provisions, had almost exempted the
poorest citizens of Rome from the necessity of labor
magnificence of the first Caesars was in some measure imitated by
the founder of Constantinople: 58
but his liberality, however it
might excite the applause of the people, has in curred the
censure of posterity
. A nation of legislators and conquerors
might assert their claim to the harvests of Africa, which had
been purchased with their blood; and it was artfully contrived by
Augustus, that, in the enjoyment of plenty, the Romans should
lose the memory of freedom.
But the prodigality of Constantine
could not be excused by any consideration either of public or
private interest; and the annual tribute of corn imposed upon
Egypt for the benefit of his new capital, was applied to feed a
lazy and insolent populace, at the expense of the husbandmen of
an industrious province. 59 *
Some other regulations of this
emperor are less liable to blame, but they are less deserving of
notice. He divided Constantinople into fourteen regions or
dignified the public council with the appellation
of senate, 61
communicated to the citizens the privileges of
and bestowed on the rising city the title of colony
the first and most favored daughter of ancient Rome. The
venerable parent still maintained the legal and acknowledged
supremacy, which was due to her age, her dignity, and to the
remembrance of her former greatness. 63
Footnote 58: Sozomen, l. ii. c. 3. Philostorg. l. ii. c. 9.
Codin. Antiquitat. Const. p. 8. It appears by Socrates, l. ii.
c. 13, that the daily allowance of the city consisted of eight
myriads of which we may either translate, with Valesius, by the
words modii of corn, or consider us expressive of the number of
loaves of bread.
Note: At Rome the poorer citizens who received these
gratuities were inscribed in a register; they had only a personal
right. Constantine attached the right to the houses in his new
capital, to engage the lower classes of the people to build their
houses with expedition. Codex Therodos. l. xiv. - G.
Footnote 59: See Cod. Theodos. l. xiii. and xiv., and Cod.
Justinian. Edict. xii. tom. ii. p. 648, edit. Genev. See the
beautiful complaint of Rome in the poem of Claudian de Bell.
Gildonico, ver. 46-64.
Cum subiit par Roma mihi, divisaque sumsit
Aequales aurora togas; Aegyptia rura
In partem cessere novam.
Footnote *: This was also at the expense of Rome. The emperor
ordered that the fleet of Alexandria should transport to
Constantinople the grain of Egypt which it carried before to
Rome: this grain supplied Rome during four months of the year.
Claudian has described with force the famine occasioned by this
Haec nobis, haec ante dabas; nunc pabula tantum
Roma precor: miserere tuae; pater optime, gentis:
Extremam defende famem.
Claud. de Bell. Gildon. v. 34.
Footnote 60: The regions of Constantinople are mentioned in the
code of Justinian, and particularly described in the Notitia of
the younger Theodosius; but as the four last of them are not
included within the wall of Constantine, it may be doubted
whether this division of the city should be referred to the
Footnote 61: Senatum constituit secundi ordinis; Claros vocavit.
Anonym Valesian. p. 715. The senators of old Rome were styled
Clarissimi. See a curious note of Valesius ad Ammian.
Marcellin. xxii. 9. From the eleventh epistle of Julian, it
should seem that the place of senator was considered as a burden,
rather than as an honor; but the Abbe de la Bleterie (Vie de
Jovien, tom. ii. p. 371) has shown that this epistle could not
relate to Constantinople. Might we not read, instead of the
celebrated name of the obscure but more probable word Bisanthe or
Rhoedestus, now Rhodosto, was a small maritime city of Thrace.
See Stephan. Byz. de Urbibus, p. 225, and Cellar. Geograph. tom.
i. p. 849.
Footnote 62: Cod. Theodos. l. xiv. 13. The commentary of
Godefroy (tom. v. p. 220) is long, but perplexed; nor indeed is
it easy to ascertain in what the Jus Italicum could consist,
after the freedom of the city had been communicated to the whole
Footnote 63: Julian (Orat. i. p. 8) celebrates Constantinople as
not less superior to all other cities than she was inferior to
Rome itself. His learned commentator (Spanheim, p. 75, 76)
justifies this language by several parallel and contemporary
instances. Zosimus, as well as Socrates and Sozomen, flourished
after the division of the empire between the two sons of
Theodosius, which established a perfect equality between the old
and the new capital.
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To cite original text:
Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794. The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
(NY : Knopf, 1993), v. 2, pp. 88 - 100.